FIVE years ago, Natasha Corrett was overtired, overworked and unhappy with her weight. And when her back seized up in a stress-related spasm just before her 26th birthday, she sought acupuncture treatment in a desperate effort to “unknot” her in time for her party.
What the gourmet cook didn’t expect was advice on food which would revolutionise her diet, lose 16kg “without noticing” – and find relief from the polycystic ovary syndrome that had dogged her for years.
Now 31, Natasha is in radiant health and her series of best-selling cook books, based on alkaline eating principles, have a big celebrity following – one fan is Victoria Beckham.
The latest book, , contains 100 meticulously tested new recipes that combine her alkaline diet principles with four cleansing plans to kick-start a new eating regime.
“Once you’ve achieved the first 30 days, there will be no turning back,” she promised. “You’ll feel so energised and full of life.”
Natasha, engaged to fitness guru Simon Bateman, 36, comes from a family that knows about food.
Her mother, interior designer Kelly Hoppen (actress Sienna Miller is her stepsister) was always a health freak, she says, and the fridge at home was full of dairy-free milk and similar products.
From her restaurateur father Graham Corrett, owner of fashionable Le Boudin Blanc in Mayfair, Natasha developed a fondness for good food, learning to cook at his restaurant on summer school holidays.
So what led to her passion for the alkaline way?
“Five years ago,” she said, “I was always on the go, making and delivering fresh food for my company Fridge Fill, working hard but not making a living, and feeling tired all the time.”
“When I was at boarding school, it was fashionable to be really skinny and my weight fluctuated massively as I tried to fit in.”
When he said Natasha’s whole system was out of balance, she was more than ready to listen.
“He suggested my body was in such a toxic state from stress and overwork that there was no way it could absorb the nutrients I was consuming. He said I needed to do an alkaline cleanse.”
Claims for the benefits of an alkaline diet are not new.
Pioneered by American biologist Dr Robert Young, the theory is that the digestive process turns foods either alkaline or acidic, measured by their pH levels.
The results are sometimes counter-intuitive: dairy turns acidic when digested; lemons go alkaline.
“An acid-based diet is blamed for osteoporosis, heart problems, back pain and kidney stones.
“At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to try this way of eating,” Natasha said. “I had promised myself I would never do another detox or diet, and felt so unhappy.
“But I was persuaded to try an alkaline cleanse for 21 days. I just didn’t stop. I felt so well.”
Gradually, the weight came off, while her symptoms of PCOS – acne, mood swings and bloating – disappeared as her hormones became more balanced.
Natasha advocates replacing acid- forming foods with fruit, vegetables, pulses and whole grains.
Wheat is also considered acid- forming, while almonds, garlic, olive oil and herbal teas are highly recommended. Following this way of eating is mostly common sense and Natasha’s delicious recipes prove it need not be painful.
Exercise is also plays a large part in Natasha’s life.
“When I’m feeling low or tired, a burst of activity just gets the ‘happy hormones’ (endorphins) pumping around my body, and in that state I naturally reach for healthier foods.
“What’s more, research has shown that just eating healthy food can boost endorphins in the brain – so combine that with exercise and you’ll double the hit.”b
She blogs enthusiastically about the alkaline lifestyle, and runs occasional exclusive cookery classes, too. There’s also a recipe app.
Naturally, both mother and father approve of her venture.
Best of all was a surprise endorsement from leading UK chef Marcus Wareing who, she was thrilled to learn, cooks from her books.
“That was my Michelin star,” she said proudly.
• Honestly Healthy Cleanse by Natasha Corrett (Hodder & Stoughton) is not yet available in South Africa, but her books Honestly Healthy and Honestly Healthy for Life can be ordered online.